This week's UK news: 15 April 2013
15 April 2013

First woman prime minister dies

Margaret Thatcher, who was the UK's first (and so far only) woman prime minister died this week. She was 87 and had health problems which meant that she had not spoken in public for many years.

Mrs Thatcher was one of the most successful political leaders of the 20th century. She led her party to three election victories, starting in 1979, and left government because she lost the support of her own party.

As Prime Minister Mrs Thatcher did a great deal to change the UK. She cut the power of trade unions, closed coal mines, sold off publically-owned industries and let people buy homes they rented from local government. She also allowed much of the UK's heavy industry to decline and close. She was also well known as a world figure because her actions helped the Cold War to end.

All these actions, and other things that she did and said, mean that at the time people either loved her or hated her. That hasn't changed with her death. Many people think she was the best Prime Minister for decades, many people think she was the worst.

So Mrs Thatcher is having a ceremonial funeral in London, but many people are unhappy about this. There has been a campaign to get people to download a song from the Wizard of Oz, called Ding! Dong! The Witch is Dead so that this got into the charts. The song went to number 2, but there was a big argument about whether or not the public service broadcaster should play it or not. In the end they played a few seconds of it and explained why it was in the charts.


Horse race winner taken to hospital with neck injuries

The Grand National is probably the UK's most famous horse race. This is because the course is very challenging, with lots of fences and turns, because large numbers of horses take part, and because the winner can be unexpected. Lots of people place a bet just once a year, on a horse in this race.

This year's race was run by 23-year-old Ryan Mania on a horse called Aurora's Encore. The horse was not a favourite, and it was Mania's first time competing in the Grand National.

Mania was the first Scot to win the race since 1896.  But the following day Mania fell off another horse during a race and was taken to hospital by helicopter with back and neck injuries. He is now making a good recovery.


UK Mormons explain their faith

One of the most popular shows in London at the moment is The Book of Mormon, a show created by the team behind the South Park cartoon. It is not polite about the Mormon religion, or anything else.

But church members in the UK have decided not to complain about the show or write letters to the papers. Instead, they have organised an advertising campaign explaining their religion and highlighting what they say are myths about their beliefs.

Malcolm Adcock, the spokesman for the Mormons in the UK, said they were not actively protesting about the musical. "In some ways it's an opportunity to correct misinformation," he said.


Tidal power scheme to power a Welsh city

More than 100,000 homes in the Welsh city of Swansea could be powered from a project to get power from the sea. The company would need to build seven miles of special wall to  capture the sea at high tide. Once the tide goes out, release gates would allow the water back out of the lagoon, powering turbines to create electricity.

If the plan gets enough investment building would begin in 2017. The company is keen to get ordinary people to invest in the plan, who would make money if it succeeded.

Mark Shorrock, who is involved in the project, says this technology could one day provide 10 per cent of the UK's energy.

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